This study tested the hypothesis that individual differences in the tendency to engage in self-handicapping were related to beliefs about the mutability of ability attributes and the pursuit of different achievement goals. Correlational data indicated that high self-handicappers as defined by the Self-handicapping Scale (Jones & Rhodewalt, 1982) believed that ability traits were more innately determined. They were mote likely to endorse performance goals (demonstration of ability) than were low self-handicappers. Low self-handicappers, in contrast, held a more incremental view of ability traits and pursued learning goals (increasing competence). Results are discussed in terms of the cognitive underpinnings of self-protective behavior.